In this study, we report a new protein involved in the homeostatic regulation of sleep in Drosophila. We conducted a forward genetic screen of chemically mutagenized flies to identify short-sleeping mutants and found one, redeye (rye) that shows a severe reduction of sleep length. Cloning of rye reveals that it encodes a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor α subunit required for Drosophila sleep. Levels of RYE oscillate in light-dark cycles and peak at times of daily sleep. Cycling of RYE is independent of a functional circadian clock, but rather depends upon the sleep homeostat, as protein levels are up-regulated in short-sleeping mutants and also in wild type animals following sleep deprivation. We propose that the homeostatic drive to sleep increases levels of RYE, which responds to this drive by promoting sleep. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01473.001.
Keywords: Sleepless/Lynx-1; acetylcholine signaling; cycling; sleep.